PALE ALERs Featured in BYO Magazine

Aphrodisiac Valentine’s Beers

Categories: (Beer Styles | Featured | Jan/Feb 2012)
Author Richard Bolster
Issue Jan/Feb 2012

Love is in the air in Princeton, New Jersey, or at least the stuff that inspires it. The Princeton And Local Environs Ale And Lager Enthusiasts Society (PALEALES) homebrew club gathered recently for their annual club-only homebrew competition, with a Valentine’s Day twist. The organizers set the adventurous, or I should say, amorous, brewers among the club’s members to the task of creating a beer with an “aphrodisiac” ingredient. This category featured a veritable heart-shaped box of beers brewed with assorted ingredients to help drinkers get in the mood.

The members of the PALEALES club, which was founded in 1995, gathered at Princeton Homebrew, the homebrew supply store owned by brewing oracle and PALEALES founder, Joe Bair. They came from Princeton and Piscataway and from right around the corner in Trenton, all with the hope of scoring the grand prize (besides bragging rights, of course): a $100 Princeton Homebrew Gift Certificate. About two dozen members, including first time attendees and longtime club members — mostly men, but with a solid female presence — met on an unseasonably warm day that didn’t feel much like February outside. Inside, too, things were heating up as PALEALES members’ hearts were pounding with anticipation and love . . . of homebrew.

The rules were simple. Beers were given an identifying number and the judges were told the intended style of each contest entry. All members tasted and scored the beers from 0–5 based on appearance, aroma and overall impression. Up to 10 points could be awarded for flavor, for a maximum total score of 25 points.

The competition was collegial rather than cutthroat with an emphasis on participation, education and enjoyment. Newbies were as welcome to enter the competition as were the club’s founders.

The event featured three broad categories of judging. The first two were based on gravity. Category 1 included brews with an original gravity of less than 1.060. Category 2 concoctions were those with an OG of 1.060 or higher. But the third category was where we all felt the love. The centerpiece of the afternoon, the aphrodisiac category, allowed brewers to highlight their creativity and to channel their inner Cupid.

The term “aphrodisiac,” which is derived from Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, and which Webster’s defines as, “an agent that arouses . . . sexual desire,” was loosely interpreted by the brewers, and that was a good thing. The aphrodisiac ingredients ranged from the perennial Valentine favorite, chocolate, to beers brewed with honey, strawberry extract and, to really spice things up, ancho chile peppers.

THE RESULTS ARE IN
Dave Rawlins was inspired to create his Jolly Roger Double Mocha Porter after falling hard for Rogue Brewery’s Double Mocha. A homebrewer since 1997 who loves French roast coffee, he explained, “I was “trying to get a mocha edge.” He got his edge and stole the hearts of the judges as his beer took top honors. This smooth robust porter was dark brown, almost black, with surprisingly subtle chocolate notes. Coffee dominated — a pound of kiln coffee malt, from Belgian maltsters Franco-Belges, will do that — but never overpowered this fine brew. (See all the recipes on page 36.)

Though nosed out at the finish line, the dynamic brewing duo of Dawn Caluccio and Kate Saik were thrilled to finish second with their own chocolaty entry. Their Gato Negro – named for Kate’s thirsty feline who got a little too close to the kettle and almost met the proverbial fate of all curious cats – was a black beauty of a beer with a thick, café au lait head and a rounded milk chocolate flavor. To get that flavor this brewing tandem did their homework.

“We thought about using actual chocolate but after . . . asking many questions of our more seasoned brew buddies [in the club] we decided on using the classic Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder.” Theirs was a double whammy, too, with vanilla bean adding richness and depth of flavor.

Chocolate was clearly a hit with the judges but honey, too, was well received. Russ Acevedo’s Belgian Honey received an honorable mention.

THE BEST OF THE REST
Brewer Mike Moreken was covering all the bases. “I figured strawberries are kind of a romantic thing, you know, strawberries dipped in chocolate.” So he whipped up a strawberry-infused chocolate beer. His recipe produced a relatively light-bodied brew. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the judges were split on this one. Some said it was pleasingly sweet, while others found the berry blast too strong. Strawberry was immediately obvious in the nose but mellowed on the palate.

Mike allowed, “The brew left no doubt it was a strawberry beer. The beer had a huge strawberry aroma at about 3 weeks.” But after another month in the bottle Mike reported, “Wow, what a difference! The power of the strawberry fell nicely into the background.”

PALEALES President, Kevin Trayner considered several aphrodisiac ingredients, including saffron and oysters, before deciding to play to his own preference for hot, spicy foods. Ancho chile powder was the aphrodisiac in his Hot Chocolate Porter.

A prior attempt to brew a jalapeño lager had taught Kevin a hard lesson. “I put three peppers in the fermenter for a week and guess what, three is too many.” This time out he was more conservative but wishes he’d used more of the hot stuff. “I would add a little more pepper next time, or consider “dry hopping” with dried or roasted whole peppers.” The emphasis here was on the chocolate malt sweetness, with a minimal pepper presence.

Spared a pepper blast, our palates were able to focus on all the tasty brews in the competition.

As for the aphrodisiacs, they worked their magic. The PALEALES members were romanced by these beers. Dawn Coluccio put it best, “What’s not to love about Valentine’s Day? A good homebrew to share with family and friends . . . brings people together and that feels good.”

So for your next homebrew recipe or competition, add a dash of romance with an aphrodisiac ingredient because at this time of year, love is in air . . . and also in the beer.

Recipes
Original homebrew recipes are presented as given, with statistics calculated by BYO. One recipe was scaled from 10 gallons to 5 gallons. Conversions to all-grain or extract version by BYO.

Jolly Roger Double Mocha Porter
by Dave Rawlins
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.062 FG = 1.016
IBU = 45 ABV = 6.0%

Ingredients
11 lbs. (5.0 kg) Maris Otter pale malt
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (120 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (150 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) Weyermann Carafa® Type II malt
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) 2-row black malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) kiln coffee malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
8.5 AAU Summit hops (45 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 17% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (20 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (5 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
75% Wyeast 1764 (Rogue Pacman)
and 25% White Labs WLP028
(Edinburg Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Mash in at 152 °F (67 °C). Hold at 152 °F (67 °C) for 60 minutes. If possible heat mash to 168 °F (76 °C) and hold for 10 minutes for mash out. Sparge with 168 °F (76 °C) water and collect 7.5 gallons (28 L) of wort or collect runoff until Plato drops to 2.0 (1.008 SG) and add water to the 7.5-gallon (28-L) mark. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Cool to 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) and pitch yeast. Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) for 1 week. Transfer to secondary fermenter for 2 weeks. Crash cool at 36 °F (2.2 °C) for 1 to 2 weeks then keg or bottle. Carbonate to 2.3 to 2.5 volumes.

Jolly Roger Double Mocha Porter
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.062 FG = 1.016
IBU = 45 ABV = 6.0%

Ingredients
8.0 lbs. (3.6 kg) Muntons Light liquid malt extract
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (120 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) crystal malt (150 °L)
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) Weyermann Carafa® Type II malt
0.25 lbs. (0.11 kg) 2-row black malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) kiln coffee malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
8.5 AAU Summit hops (45 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 17% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (20 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
5 AAU Willamette hops (5 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
75% Wyeast 1764 (Rogue
Pacman) and 25% White Labs
WLP028 (Edinburg Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Steep grains at 152 °F (67 °C). Stir in half of the malt extract and boil wort for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Stir in remaining malt extract in final 15 minutes of the boil. Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C).

Gato Negro
by Dawn Coluccio
and Kate Saik
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.054 FG = 1.013
IBU = 21 ABV = 5.2%

Ingredients
6.0 lbs. (2.7 kg) dark malt extract
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) domestic special pale malt
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) medium crystal malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) roasted barley
0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) chocolate malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) oatmeal
1.75 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 whole vanilla beans
5 AAU UK Kent Golding hops (45 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
8.5 AAU UK Northdown hops (5 mins)
(1 oz./28 g of 8.5% alpha acids)
White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Heat 1.0 gallon (3.8 L) of water to 170 °F (77 °C). Add grain bag and steep for 30 minutes. Sparge grains at 168 °F (76 °C) bringing volume up to 2.0 gallons (7.6 L). Return to boil. Turn off heat and add malt extract. Boil for 60 minutes adding hops as indicated. Turn off heat. Split and scrape vanilla beans and add. Add cocoa powder. Stir thoroughly. Bring the total volume up to 5 gallons (19 L). Cool to 70 °F (21 °C) and pitch yeast. Ferment at 60–75 °F (16–24 °C). Rack to secondary when gravity is 1.016 or lower. Ferment until action has ceased and beer has clarified. Prime, bottle and age at room temperature for at least two weeks before chilling.

Strawberry Choco
by Mike Moreken
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.051 FG = 1.013
IBU = 23 ABV = 5.3%

Ingredients
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (60 °L) 
0.20 lb. (91 g) CaraPils® malt
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) pale malt
3.2 lb. (1.5 kg) golden liquid malt extract (45 min)
3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) amber liquid malt extract (45 min)
6.1 AAU Nugget hops (60 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 12.2% alpha acids)
1 whirlfloc tablet (15 mins)
Nottingham dried yeast
3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) Sweet Cherry Puree Vintner’s Harvest (secondary)
0.33 cup baker’s chocolate (secondary)
2.0 oz. (57 g) strawberry extract (bottling)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) lactose (bottling)
3⁄4 cup brown sugar (for priming)

Step by Step
Bring about 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) to roughly 155 °F (68 °C). Soak grain for 30 minutes. Remove grain. Bring to a boil. Remove pot from heat and stir in extract. Return to boil for 60 minutes. Add hops and whirlfloc as indicated. Add cool sterilized water to make 5 gallons (19 L). Aerate and pitch yeast at 72 °F (22 °C).

Ferment for one week then rack to secondary. Add cherry puree and chocolate to secondary. Move to cooler area for two weeks at 70 °F (21 °C), if possible. At bottling, add strawberry flavor and lactose, stir gently. Prime, bottle and condition at room temperature for four weeks minimum.

(OG and FG are given as before lactose and fruit added. Estimated ABV includes sugar from strawberry puree. Lactose will boost beer’s FG by about 4 “gravity points.”)

Strawberry Choco
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.051 FG = 1.013
IBU = 23 ABV = 5.3%

Ingredients
8.5 lb. (3.9 kg) pale malt
1 lb. 6 oz. (0.63 kg) crystal (60 °L)
0.20 lb. (91 g) CaraPils® malt
6.1 AAU Nugget hops (60 mins)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 12% alpha acids)
1 whirlfloc tablet (15 mins)
Nottingham dried ale yeast
3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) Sweet Cherry Puree Vintner’s Harvest (secondary)
0.33 cup baker’s chocolate (secondary)
2.0 oz. (57 g) strawberry extract (bottling)
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) lactose (bottling)
3⁄4 cup brown sugar (for priming)

Step by Step
Mash at 152 °F (67 °C). Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops with 60 minutes remaining. Ferment at 72 °F (22 °C), then rack to secondary, adding fruit puree and chocolate. Add lactose and fruit extract at bottling, along with priming sugar.

Hot Chocolate Porter
by Kevin Trayner
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.050 FG = 1.012
IBU = 53 ABV = 4.8%

Ingredients
6.6 lbs. (3.0 kg) amber liquid malt extract
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) black patent
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) CaraMunich® malt
2.5 oz. (71 g) Ancho chile powder
5.0 oz. (142 g) cocoa powder
8.0 oz. (227 g) milk chocolate bar
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (60 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
9.0 AAU Northern Brewer hops (45 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 9% alpha acids)
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (10 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
Wyeast 1099 (Whitbread Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Bring two gallons water to 160 °F (71 °C). Turn off heat and add specialty grains. Steep for 30 minutes. Stir in extract. Return to heat and bring to boil. Add cocoa powder, chile pepper, and chocolate bar. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Remove from boil. Top up to 5.0 gallons (19 L). Cool, aerate and pitch yeast at 72 °F (22 °C). Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) for two weeks then rack to secondary. Prime, bottle and condition at room temperature for one week.

You can use different peppers for different flavors. I like the smokiness of Ancho. Alternate pepper flavor method: Sear 1–3 whole peppers on a grill. Add to secondary.

Hot Chocolate Porter
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.050 FG = 1.012
IBU = 53 ABV = 4.8%

Ingredients
8.5 lbs. (3.9 kg) pale malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
0.50 lb. (0.23 kg) black patent
1.25 lb. (0.57 kg) CaraMunich® malt
2.5 oz. (71 g) Ancho chile powder
5.0 oz. (142 g) cocoa powder
8.0 oz. (227 g) milk chocolate bar
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (60 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
9.0 AAU Northern Brewer hops (45 mins)
(1.0 oz./28 g of 9% alpha acids)
4.5 AAU Northern Brewer hops (10 mins)
(0.50 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
Wyeast 1099 (Whitbread Ale) yeast

Step by Step
Mash at 152 °F (67 °C). Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops as indicated. Ferment at 65–68 °F (18–20 °C) for two weeks then rack to secondary. Prime, bottle and condition at room temperature for one week.

Richard Bolster wrote about pretzels in the September 2011 issue of BYO.

GuinnessLESS Meeting

You never know when things are going to go completely pare shaped on you. However, I think we managed to pull off an informative and fun evening despite a “no show” from our scheduled sales rep from Guinness.Luckily, the rep wasn’t bringing the beer! Instead, our host Ed Goracy of Hub City pulled some cases of Guinness products out of the warehouse and had them waiting for us — a the perfect temperature. Club Member Dave Rawlins took up the challenge and walked us through each beer. We started off the evening with Harp then onto Smithwicks. Next up was the newest addition to the lineup: Guinness Black Lager. Then onto the Extra Stout and the relatively new Export Stout. It seemed to me that the Extra Stout was by far the club favorite. Feel free to post your own impressions of these beers as a comment to this post!

A special thanks to Ed Goracy and Hub City for once again being a generous host to PALE ALES! I also owe a thank you to Dave Rawlins, Clay Spence and Joe Bair for their help in making the best of the circumstances. And of course, a big thanks to Dawn for great pics.

 

AHA Dark Lager Competition

Just in case someone is sitting on a couple of bottles of dark lager…

 

American Homebrewers Association
Hail to Hefeweizen Club-Only Competition Results are In

Who says that Hefeweizen has to be a summer beer style? This third Club-Only Competition saw 60 entries from 29 states competing in BJCP category 15. Thanks to competition organizer Brian Steuerwald and the Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI) club of Indianapolis, IN for hosting the competition.

1st: Mark Beatty, Lincoln, NE, Lincoln Lagers, “Smarter But Not Weizer,” Weizenbock, category 15C

2nd: Aaron Fournier, Montgomeryville, PA, Keystone Hops,”I Don’t Always Drink Weizen, But When I Do, It’s This Dunkel,” Dunkelweizen, category 15B

3rd: Josh Jensen, Los Angeles, CA, Yeastside Brewers, “Hubris Hefeweizen,” Hefeweizen, category 15A


Next Up: Dark Lagers

Short, dark winter days call for delicious dark lagers! Entries for the fourth competition of the 2011-2012 Club-Only Competition year are due February 10, 2012, and judging will be held February 18, 2012. Entry fee is $7 (checks payable to American Homebrewers Association).

Entry Shipping:
AHA COC
c/o Doug Newberry
1215 Burnham Ln.
Batavia, IL 60510

Hosted by the Urban Knaves of Grain (UKG) club of Batavia, IL, this competition covers BJCP category 4.

For more information, contact Doug Newberry.

SAVE THE DATE!

Time to start brewing for the National Homebrew Competition!

Mid-February 2012: Online Registration

March 19-28: Entry Shipping

March 30-April 22: First Round

May 4: First Round Results


Coopers
Club-Only Competition Sponsor


Raise money for your club by selling AHA memberships through your club website! Contact Steve Parr for details.

American Homebrewers Association
CLUB RESOURCES •       FIND A CLUB •       HOMEBREWOPEDIA
American Homebrewers Association
AHA

The Monster Mash 2: Field of Hops

The historic porter group brew in Piscataway had it all – some 9am Pilsners, a stuck mash, and suspicious neighbors doing slow drivebys all day long! Piscataway had never seen the likes of it. Due to a supply chain issue, the brewing didn’t get started right away (hence the 9am pilsners). But once we got started, there was no stopping. That is, until Ryan’s stuck mash! Luckily, that was only a temporary setback. As you can see from the pictures, it was a small group, but in the end all problems were overcome with good helpings of brew, pulled pork (thanks Chef Ryan!) and some post-brewing hobo juice, also known as applejack, aka apple liquor, aka that stuff that Ben brought. The brews are coming along nicely, Ben Bakelaar just racked his tonight, OG = 1.058, FG = 1.028 for a 3.91% ABV beer according to BeerSmith. Dave Rawlins racked his last weekend and got an FG of 1.024. And so the countdown has begun to Monster Mash 3: Princeton vs. Rutgers…. and we all know how that one turns out!

The Monster Mash was a Brewyard Smash!

And by “brewyard” I mean the parking lot at Princeton Homebrew where 7 of us did a single mash to produce some 42 gallons of wort.

If you have been by Princeton Homebrew lately, you’ve probably laid eyes on the Monster Mash Tun. Its a 60-gallon, stainless steel homebrewers dream. The only problem is that we needed to create a false bottom to filter the grain from our beer. An effective false bottom is like a fine balancing act. If the filter is too course, grain husk will get through into your beer. If its too fine, all the grain will compact on the false bottom and prevent any water from making its way through the grain bed, resulting in worst of all brewing blunders, a STUCK MASH. So, you’d probably be thinking that we would pick a recipe to test our false bottom design that almost ensured success. Something like the brew we did last year at the Group Brew — a light saison with 9 lbs of grain per 5-gallons. Nahh, over several glasses of Hobo Juice at Princeton Homebrew, we decided the best idea was to Go Big or Go Home! We attempted to mash what will easily turn out to be the most difficult grain bill that this mash tun will ever see.

There were 17.5 lbs of grain for every 5 gallons of beer we were creating. And worse, 15 of them were brown malt — which basically pulverizes into a fine dust when milled. Setting the stage for a stuck mash.

Our false bottom combined high-end metal fabrication and items from the dollar store. Trenton Sheet Metal plasma cut a piece of 1/16 stainless steel and mounted hinges and stainless screen along with some 2-inch feet to keep it up off the bottom of the mash tun. And over drain we put a sink strainer over the top of an egg beater — no lie. Turns out our this last line of defense actually kept a decent amount of grain our of our wort!

A special thanks to Sir Al Buck and his magical box of stainless steel sanitary fittings, tri clamps and gaskets! And of course, this day couldn’t have been possible without the vision, cheerleading and Hobo Juice provided by Joe Bair of Princeton Homebrew.

Ithaca Raises the Bar at the Firkin

Wow, what a meeting! Brewery Rep Extraordinaire, Eric VanZile took us through a series of beers that ticked all the boxes — a session wheat beer, some gigantically hoppy brews and even a 2-year old Belgian quad. Eric’s been at Ithaca for seven years and seems to have had his hands in every aspect of the company. Its evident in just a couple of minutes of talking to him that his enthusiasm for the brand and his passion for craft beer is not something that was memorized off the company brochure. Eric is the real deal.

I’m not sure about you, but a certain brewery’s apricot beer kinda spoiled my pallet for fruit beers. I’ll admit, I drank my share of a “numbered” beer back in the day. I even stumbled on a six-pack holder in my basement just recently. But the beer never really stood up to the test of time for me. You know that album that you have such fond memories of, but then you go back and listen to it a few years later and you can’t imagine what you were thinking? Well, those VT fruit beers were my Stone Temple Pilots. I mention this, because I had never actually tried Ithaca’s Apricot Wheat until the other night. But, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I assumed it was going to be some knock-off trick beer that was super sweet and with an over the top fruit flavor. It was very well balanced and had a surprisingly crisp, dry finish! Given its mass appeal, its not hard to believe that it outsells all the other labels at Ithaca.

Next up, we all dove into a huge pile of fresh cascade, chinook and crystal hops and rolled around for a half hour. Well, maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that. But the CascaZilla definitely left your pallet with the feeling of doing a cannonball into a pool of hops.

When we started planning this meeting over the Summer, I mentioned to Bryan Liegel, the owner of the Firkin, that it would be really cool if he could arrange to have a special Ithaca brew on tap the night of the meeting. I had no idea that we’d be pulling pints off one of only 2 kegs of Ithaca’s Outdoor Harvest Ale in South Jersey. There were only six delivered to the entire state. It’s a fantastic example of a hoppy American pale ale made entirely with hops grown in NY State. Do yourself a favor and get over there to try some of this before its all gone. [Edit: its gone!]

Next up was the Flower Power IPA. Don’t let the name fool you. This ain’t no delicate session beer. Its a big pale ale with an extremely hoppy profile. Forget about the trip to India, five additions give this enough hops to preserve it to Mars and back. Let’s call it a Interplanetary Pale Ale.

Another seasonal was up next — Cold Front is a Belgian Style amber. Belgian farmhouse yeast and some subtle noble hops really give this one an authentic flavor.

The last beer of the night was a really special one. The Excelsior TWELVE was a beer brewed for their 12th anniversary — TWO YEARS AGO! Yes, that’s right, we had a beautifully-aged 10% trappist ale to cap off the night. Speaking of aging, ALL of the beers we tasted were beautifully conditioned. None of those “green beers” that immediately had you thinking about how you should squirrel the rest of the six pack away in the basement for a few months.

Ithaca is making flawless beers with quality ingredients and bold flavors. They’re pushing the limit on popular styles and seem to be one batch ahead of everyone else. To sum up, Ithaca has their tongue firmly planted on craft brewing’s 9-volt battery and they can’t bring themselves to pull it off. Kudos!

Thanks, Eric! Thanks, Ithaca! And thanks Bryan for being such a great host to PALE ALES!

Visit to Harvest Moon Brewery ON the Harvest Moon

Yes, that’s right — the PALE ALES were at the Harvest Moon Brewery on the actual Harvest Moon of 2011.

And what a night it was. For those of you that may have skipped this meeting because you hadn’t been impressed with HM’s selections of the past — its time to give them another try. We sampled 7 fantastic beers on Monday! HM’s new Head Brewer, Kyle McDonald, walked us through each beer. Overall, Kyle is taking HM’s taps away from the English styles of their previous brewer and toward the German styles, but with some American influence.

MoonLight Kolschbier. There are no big malt flavors or huge hop additions to hide an off-flavor in a Kolsch. I knew it was going to be a good night as soon as I tasted this light, crisp straw colored brew. Kyle said he experimented with a batch of this at traditional kolsch fermentation temps (cooler), but the tiny flavor difference it added was not worth hogging up a tank for. Cooler fermentation = slower fermentation. So, this one gets brewed at traditional ale temps.

Simcoe Double IPA. HM filters all of their beers. But there was no filtering out the hop haze on this one! Big, bold and well-balanced!

MonkeyShine Weizenbock. Melanoidins galore in this wheat beer. But a fine example of the style nonetheless.

Lemon Sorachi Saison. I am pretty sure that we tasted a young version sample of this same batch of beer back in July at our Saison style meeting. The 3 months have done it a world of good! Its a whopping 9% and it tastes like a 5-6% brew. A couple of people noticed a coconut flavor that was probably the result of four pounds of lemon rind! Sorachi and saison were meant to be together.

Jimmy D’s Firehouse Red. This beer commemorates a heroic firefighter from New Brunswick that lost his life saving others. A portion of every pint goes to support a camp for kids with severe burn injuries. So, drink several!

Full Moon Pale Ale. Not only were we fortunate enough to drink this beer ON a full moon, but this particular batch was just shipped off to the Great American Beer festival for judging. I think we were all in agreement that this is a guaranteed medal winner. Good luck, Kyle! Our very own Dave Rawlins is headed out the the GABF to help HM pour brews next week.

Schwarzbier. Personally, I think it might have been a little too toasty for the style. But it was really chewy and rich. In a word, FANTASTIC!

This was a great night, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kyle for hosting us and keeping us well lubricated! Thanks, Tony (color) and Dawn (B&W) for the great pics in a very challenging light!

Kane Brewery Tour

Over 30 PALE ALERS trekked out to the Kane Brewery last night just outside Asbury Park. Michael, Glenn, and Clay were on hand to take us on a tour of their 7,500 square foot brewhouse. According to Michael Kane, it was exactly a year ago that they signed their lease and started retrofitting the building and installing equipment.

Kane has a 20-barrel system with a 25-barrel mash/lauter tun — giving them room for some big beers. Their fermenters are 40 barrels, so every brew day is a “double batcher.” Their system was designed and built by DME in Canada. But it seemed like the installer that DME sent down was worth his weight in gold. In addition to helping them plan for expansion and future improvements, his technical understanding of the power and plumbing requirements was invaluable to Kane’s subcontractors.

According to the brewer, Clay, the steam jacket system they have is so fast and efficient that the kettle is at a full boil as its being filled! And the boil is so vigorous that they their hop utilization is better than they expected. They actually plan to dial back some of the bittering hops because of this!

It was an honor to be among the very first people to try their first 3 production-sized batches. I don’t recall a meeting where a series of beers from a brewer were so well received and “favorites” were so evenly split. First up was the Single Fin at 5.0%. This Belgian Style’s sessionability was not at the expense of a full flavor and aroma profile. A 5.5% Rye Beer called After Glow was up next. Even though the grain bill was about 20% rye [edit: it was only 10%], the rye was not over the top. Instead it seemed to create a dryness that was well balanced with the rest of the malt. Last was a 6.5% West Coast Style IPA called “Head High.” Another fantastic, well-balanced beer!

This might be a good time to mention that all three of these beers were VERY boldly hopped. All of them had well balanced — but distinct — hop flavors and aromas. According to Clay, they intend to keep things going in this direction by combining West Coast hopping schedules with East Coast styles and carving out a new style palette along the way.

If you missed the meeting, Kane’s tasting room should be open to the public in a week. Of course, check their blog for the latest news out of Kane and be sure to friend them on Facebook. Thanks, Dawn, for all the great pics!

Princeton and Local Environs Ale and Lager Enthusiast Society